The journey to achieving a driver's licence in New South Wales involves several different steps. This is understandable, as responsible driving is key for ensuring the safety of everyone using the road.
However, it does mean that most drivers will have to wait a significant amount of time before progressing to a full and unrestricted licence. For eligible drivers wishing to accelerate the process while also gaining valuable skills in low-risk defensive driving, the new Safer Drivers Course may be a useful alternative.
The government in New South Wales first launched the Safer Drivers Course in July 2013, as part of their review into the existing licencing system. It is still being rolled out across the state as a whole, so not all suburbs and areas will have the capacity to provide it. If you do have access to the course, however, it can be a helpful way to move forward with your driving skills
Who can take the course?
In NSW, most drivers must undertake at least 120 hours of supervised driving practice before they can move on from their learner licence to the provisional (P1) licence. This includes 20 hours of night driving (for drivers aged under 25 years).
Each hour of practice needs to be recorded in the official learner driver log book, which will be provided to you after you have passed the Driver Knowledge Test.
Learner drivers must also have held their licence for at least 12 months before they are allowed to sit the driving test for the P1 stage.
However, if you are under 25 years of age and have already completed 50 log book driving hours, you may be eligible to undertake the Safer Drivers Course. This can provide you with a faster route to the next stage of your licence.
What are the benefits?
Unfortunately, drivers in the 17-25 year old age group are more likely than others to be involved in a road crash or incident. For example, a 17 year old driver with a P1 license is four times as likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers over the age of 26. In addition to this, one-third of all speeding drivers and riders involved in fatal crashes are males aged 17-25.
All drivers in this age group can benefit from the Safer Drivers Course. It is designed to teach essential safe driving strategies such as speed management, correct gap selection in moving traffic, hazard awareness and much more.
Ultimately, drivers who complete the course will be more prepared to drive unsupervised with their provisional licences.
The Safer Drivers Course will also help reduce the time it takes to move from the learner to the P1 licence. Completing the course gives you 20 hours of credit in your learner log book, so you will only have 100 more to go.
What does the course entail?
The course is made up of two modules. The first is a three-hour facilitated group discussion on how to manage the risks present on the roads. The second takes two hours, and consists of an in-vehicle coaching session with another learner to help you practise low-risk driving strategies.
Drivers who complete this course will gain valuable theoretical information and practical skills, helping to lower the risk of an accident.